Ethnobotanical Study in and around Sirso Natural Forest of Melokoza District, Gamo Goffa Zone, Southern Ethiopia
Background: Melokoza district has many ethnic groups and has a long tradition of using wild plants as a means of livelihood. However, communities’ knowledge associated to plants is not fully studied. Hence, this study was conducted to document plant-based indigenous knowledge of the people in order to preserve the tapering off indigenous plant species and their associated traditional knowledge.
Methods: Ethnobotanical data were collected through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion and guided field walk. A total of 72 informants were selected from four sampled Kebeles (the lowest administrative unit in Ethiopia) using stratified random sampling. Additional 24 key informants were selected purposively for exhaustive discussion. Preference ranking, paired comparison, direct matrix ranking, and informant consensus factor were calculated. Statistical tests were performed to compare the indigenous knowledge of the local communities on plants uses among different informant categories.
Results: A total of 135 plant species distributed in 116 genera and 52 families were recorded. Among flowering families Asteraceae was the most dominant family (15 species), followed by Lamiaceae (12 species). Of the total species, 92 plant species were recorded as medicinal to cure 39 human and livestock ailments. Fresh leaves were the most frequently reported plant parts (36), followed by roots (27). The highest ICF value (0.91) was computed for parasite infections disease categories. Vepris dainellii and Embelia schimperi were the most popular medicinal plants with high informant consensus cited by 51 (71%) and 48 (67%) informants respectively. Cordia africana and Croton macrostachyus were shown to be the top multipurpose and the most utilized plant species in the study area. Significant difference at (P =0.003) was observed on the mean number of plant species stated by groups of respondents compared within gender and age on traditional use of plant species for different purposes. Elder people and traditional healers of the area possess vast knowledge on plant use and ethnomedicinal practices in comparison with the young generation and have a positive correlation relationship (r=0.507) between the age and their traditional medicinal knowledge. Vast knowledge on traditional uses of plant species conveyed from one generation to the next one by the word of mouth and the knowledge transfer system is quite restricted within the family members.
Conclusions: The study revealed that Sirso natural forest of the district is a home for high diversity of plant species and associated indigenous knowledge. However, preservation efforts of the community are meager to assure survival of plant species and indigenous knowledge in the area. Thus, awareness creation to the youth and training to the healers is highly recommended to prevent the loss of plant species with their associated indigenous knowledge.
Keywords: Ethnobotany, Indigenous knowledge, medicinal plants, Sirso natural forest
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